Thursday, July 03, 2008

PDF for the Wide screen

The Adobe Acrobat document is perhaps the one technology which could actually make the paperless office possible. However, I see a really annoying problem: Acrobat continues to assume that the document produced will be printed.

For instance, I have purchased a number of e-books from Manning Publications. If you're not familiar with them, Manning makes some of the best programming books available for purchase today.  Every one I have purchased has been well-written and is full of actionable information on the topic they are discussing. One of the best things they have going for them is the ability to purchase nearly all of their catalog in .pdf form for a significant discount. The .pdf books have many advantages to their paper brethren - they are searchable and you can keep them on your computer so they are always there when you need them (a huge bonus with programming references).

Since they are .pdf files, the nice layout of the book is preserved. This leads to my problem - most books are laid out in a portrait layout. This makes sense when books are printed so shelves don't have to be as deep. However, there has been a shift in recent years where the majority of computers sold today are laptops. The screens on laptops have migrated towards a wide screen format, meaning more width, less height.

Reading Acrobat files which have been are targeted for a portrait oriented layout on a widescreen display is very annoying.  So annoying, that I purchased a 19" monitor that sits next to my laptop that is permanently kept in portrait orientation for the purpose of reading Acrobat files.  This has worked out so well that I think I would keep my portrait document monitor even if I finally pull the trigger on that Dell Ultrasharp 2408WFP I keep drooling over.

Adobe - you have an amazing product which has taken the world by storm.  Everyone uses Acrobat to distribute read-only documents which retain their formatting. If you could develop an 'online reading' mode which behaves similar to Microsoft Word's reader view it would make it much easier to view documents on widescreen displays. You're so close to making the paperless office a reality.

Adobe: let's get this done!

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